Friday, 31 January 2014

The South West's most impressive cathedrals

Even if you're not religious, stepping inside an enormous cathedral and looking up at the magnificent stained glass windows is a humbling experience.

Whether you enjoy great architecture, want a chance to take stock or to share your thoughts with God, visiting a place of worship is a an experience that every holidaymaker can appreciate. And on a holiday cottage stay in the South West you'll never be too far from one of the region's magnificent cathedrals.

Here's the lowdown on a few of the finest:

Truro Cathedral (photo 

Speaking of architecture, Truro Cathedral's is quite rare in that it is one of only three such buildings in the whole of the UK with three spires - the others being Lichfield Cathedral and St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Another impressive note about this imposing building is that when work began on creating the gothic revival structure in 1880, it was the first time a cathedral had been started on a new site since Salisbury in 1220.

Truro Cathedral's open-door policy means that tourists can visit for free from 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. However, there is a suggested donation of £5 per adult to help with the upkeep of the building.

One of the cathedral's most popular annual events is the erection of an ice rink on the green each winter.

Exeter Cathedral

Visiting this magnificent gothic cathedral is one of the highlights of any trip to the lively city of Exeter.

Boasting the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in the world and one of the South West's unique collection of 14th to 16th century astronomical clocks (there are similar designs at Salisbury, Wells, Ottery St Mary and Wimborne Minster), there's plenty to admire on a stroll around the grounds.

The cathedral is open to visitors from 9am with the last entry at 4.15pm Monday to Saturday, and from 11.30am with the last entry at 3.30pm on Sundays. Admission costs £6 for adults in order to cover the building's running costs of £1.3 million a year, but children go free.

Wells Cathedral

Regarded as arguably the most beautiful in the whole of England, Wells Cathedral has a host of highlights to amaze visitors. From the magnificent West Front, featuring 300 medieval statues, to the some of the finest examples of 14th century stained glass in Europe and, of course, an astronomical clock the building has treasures at every turn.

As at Truro, admission is free, but £6 donations are suggested to cover the £4,000 per day running costs. The cathedral is open every day of the year and free tours of the site are available all year round except on Sundays. Opening hours are 7am to 7pm between April and September and 7am to 6pm October to March.

For the chance to indulge in a period of true contemplation, visit during one of the cathedral's quiet hours between 12pm and 1pm, from April to October.

Photo Credit: Tim Green